Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder had long been a regular part of Deborah Giannecchini’s daily feminine hygiene routine when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer in 2012. The 63-year-old woman has since come to believe that the company’s popular talcum powder brand played a major role in her illness. Last Thursday, a Missouri jury agreed, awarding Giannecchini $70 million for her suffering.
“I used it for 45 years, from age 15,” Giannecchini, said Friday during a news conference arranged by her attorneys. “I was still using it.”
Since her diagnosis, Giannecchini has endured the removal of her spleen, part of her stomach and part of her colon, as well as her ovaries and uterus. She continues to experience ongoing health problems caused by chemotherapy. Though she is cancer free today, it will be years before she knows whether or not the disease is truly gone.
“There’s not enough money in the world to pay for fighting the cancer,” Giannecchini said of her victory.
Giannecchini was the third plaintiff to prevail against Johnson & Johnson this year in a talcum powder lawsuit. Her jury deliberated for just three hours before ordering the company to pay $65 million in punitive damages, along with the majority of a $2.5 million compensatory award. The remainder of the award, along with another $2.5 million in punitive damages was levied against Imerys Talc America, Johnson & Johnson’s talc supplier.
Giannecchini’s case was one of more than 1,200 talcum powder claims pending in Missouri Circuit Court in St. Louis. Her lawsuit cited numerous studies published since the 1970s that have suggested talcum powder could contribute to the development of ovarian cancer. At trial, jurors were also shown internal documents indicating that Johnson & Johnson had been aware of those studies for decades, yet chose not to include a warning label on its talc products.
In February, another Missouri plaintiff was awarded $72 million at the conclusion of her talcum powder lawsuit. A second trial concluded in May with a $55 million judgment against Johnson & Johnson.
Johnson & Johnson is facing hundreds of additional cases in court around the country. Despite the recent trial losses, the company continues to deny that its talc-based powders have any connection to ovarian cancer.